It has been a very tough couple of days here – so many children I know, including my own daughter, are terrified that our president-elect will be sending away their friends and family members. So many feel that he hates them personally.
All I can do is what I always do – work to spread understanding and love through literature. This is a list of girl-led read-alouds to appeal to the whole class that I’ve been working on for about six months now, at the request of my son’s former 2/3 teacher and a companion to my list of 11 Girl-Led Read-Alouds for 4/5 Grade. Links are to my own reviews where available.
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich – follow Omakayas, Little Frog, and her Ashinabe family through the year in this story that is warm and loving while not shying away from the tough parts of life in this period. Kudos to our school’s teachers for making this a standard read-aloud with the Michigan history unit (it’s set in Minnesota, but on Lake Superior.)
Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon – Can young, kind-looking Molly convince both the minions of Castle Hangnail and Magic Board that she is a wicked witch, capable of taking over the castle? This Cybils finalist has a lot of heart hidden inside the humor.
Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta. Margie is proud to be a born-in-Texas American. She’s deliberately forgotten most of her Spanish and pushed her Mexican-born parents to be as American as possible. But when her Spanish-only speaking cousin Lupe arrives in California, things start to fall apart. This takes a hard look at the immigrant experience and what it means to be American, with an uplifting ending.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – the classic Cinderella-inspired story of a girl “gifted” by a fairy godmother to be obedient.
Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay – The adventures of a risk-taking girl who really, really loves animals. In this first book in the series, Lulu and her best friend and cousin rescue an abandoned duck egg.
President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston – Michigan girl Brianna Justice wants to build a cupcake empire, just like her hometown hero, Miss Delicious. She’s sure the path to success lies in being elected fifth-grade president. But when a new girl, Jasmine Moon, recruits one of Brianna’s friends to work on Jasmine’s campaign, Brianna starts to lose sight of what’s really important. Will offers of help a boy whose nickname is Weasel be good or bad for Brianna and her campaign?
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George – Welcome to the Castle Glower, which changes itself every Tuesday. Only the youngest royal child, Celie, always knows her way around – and when sinister Prince Khelsh invades, it’s up to Celie and her siblings to save the castle and their parents.
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett – 9-year-old Tiffany Aching must rescue her often-annoying kid brother from the Queen of the Fairies, with the aid of her frying pan and some crazy tiny blue men.
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin – Why, yes, this was on my list of read-alouds for 4/5s, too. It really is worth it. This is an epic journey through folk tales, with a dragon.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – let kids discover the magic behind the original classic, where Oz is not a dream.
The Wrinkled Crown by Anne Nesbet – Linny is shocked when playing an instrument forbidden to girls puts her best friend in danger. She leaves the magical hills only to find a larger struggle between the forces of science and magic.
This is only a beginning – many of the books on my 4/5 list and the upcoming K/1 list would also work at this level (my daughter’s 2/3 class listened with rapt attention to the entire Princess in Black series.) Here are some books that have been recommended to me by other blog readers that I haven’t yet gotten to:
- Izzy Barr, Running Star by Claudia Mills
- The Mystery of Meerkat Hill by Alexander McCall-Smith
- Sassy: Little Sister is Not My Name by Sharon Draper
- Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling
What are your favorite read-alouds for 7 to 9 year-olds?
I’ve been reading the Mountain Meets the Moon series to my own kids the past few weeks. I’d read the first book myself before, but it’s my first time for the other two, too, and I liked Starry River even more than the first! We just started When the Sea Turned to Silver last night, and the first chapter is eerily relevant to current events– it gave me chills! But I’ve also been thinking about how the books are exposing my children to so much Chinese culture, normalizing the names and things, and it’s started me really thinking that I need to find books that can do the same for, particularly in this culture, Muslim kids. We just don’t have very many Muslims in our area, and misconceptions are leaning pretty dangerously among the people who ARE here, and I imagine it’s only going to get worse, so I really want to lay some empathetic groundwork in that area. But I can’t think of any particular titles for their age and interest.
Betsy Bird was writing about the new early chapter book series Museum Mysteries, which has a Muslim girl hero- the first book is the Case of the Stolen Space Suit. I haven’t seen it, though we do have lots of Muslims in our area and need more books. We tried and loved the picture book Big Red Lollipop also on Betsy’s recommendation- more about siblings in a Muslim family.
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